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Give Scott Southard a minute — a minute and a half, to be exact, and he can inform an entire student body of the events that take place on their campus.
Southard, a 2011 graduate of Liberty University, is the producer and editor of 90 Seconds Around Liberty, the familiar student-run news production aired every Wednesday during convocation. Over the last two years, Southard saw 90 Seconds Around Liberty evolve from a faceless university production into a news package manned entirely by him and his peers.
However, the change of command was abrupt, according to Southard.
“(Liberty) turned it from a television production class into a 90 Seconds (class) two weeks into the semester,” Southard said. “I didn’t edit it then, I just did seconds for it. The next semester after that I started editing it.”
Immediately, changes took place in the way that 90 Seconds was produced, but those changes presented challenges.
“There was no host at first, and then the teacher, Bruce Kirk, came up with the idea to have two hosts leading it,” Southard said. “At first, we started with having the hosts switch every week, and it just didn’t work out.We wanted to make a face for 90 Seconds for the year, so I had come up with the idea that we needed to keep the two people the same the next semester. We picked out the two best people that could do it in the class, and we kept them the same.”
Southard also noted that organization was an element that the re-born production lacked.
“We started with a total mess,” he said. “No one had any jobs, and we had no idea what we were doing. As the semesters progressed, I started making jobs for people. Scriptwriting was a specific job. If you had to do scriptwriting, then that was your job for the rest of the semester.”
Positions for videographers, photographers and an audio technician were formed as well, Southard said.
Within the last year, however, Southard explained that even more changes have occurred with 90 Seconds.
“As of last year, I was just a student in the class,” he said. “Every semester, we had to start from scratch again, not knowing what was happening, and when I came on board, it made it so it was consistent from year to year. One person could stay in the class each semester so they could let everyone know what to do and how to do it each semester.
“If there was a new videographer in the class, I’d go with them, show them what they needed to do, rather than them just going out and making the same mistakes from semester to semester.”
Southard said he helped focus the production on campus events, removing unnecessary material from each week’s episode.
“I cut all the corniness from it,” he said. “We actually have news segments to try and make it more into a news thing, so people actually get their attention back into it and actually enjoy watching it in convocation.”
One of the methods in which Southard and the students in Professor Kirk’s class have regained the attention of the 90 Seconds audience has come from the class’s four-member public relation team’s use of social media. The team spawned the ideas for the production’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, a photo contest and T-shirt and logo designs, Southard said. Twitter giveaways and a Facebook photo album that covers supplemental news events are also helping promote the production.
Ninety seconds is by many standards a minimal amount of time, but for Southard, week after week it represents revitalization and rewarding work.